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Your Business

News/Business. A focus on issues facing small business in the United States.

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Austin 6, Us 4, Colleen 4, Texas 4, Paul Ryan 3, J.j. Ramberg 2, An American Express 2, Brazil 2, Mason Arnold 1, Conig 1, Raccoon 1, Erin Flynn 1, Carney 1, Beaver 1, Michael Goldberg 1, Greene Greenling 1, Robbie Larkin 1, Openforum.com Yourbusiness 1, Facebook Data 1, Lynette 1,
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  MSNBC    Your Business    News/Business. A focus on issues  
   facing small business in the United States.  

    November 3, 2012
    2:30 - 3:00am PDT  

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he is tattooed. he is pierced and he breaths fire. who better to give advice on separating customers from their money than this carnival showman. and, it got vice president presidential hopeful paul ryan in shape, the creator of the p 90 x work-out on exercising your entrepreneural muscle. that's coming up next.
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hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg. welcome to "your business." the show dedicated to giving you tips and advice to help your small business grow. halloween is coming, which made us think about the question, are you doing anything, even inadvertently, to scare off your customers? we want to show you a few things you could be doing better. so i ask you, what does a carnival freak show performer have in common with a modern sales professional? maybe more than you think. who better than a seasoned carney to show us how to seal the deal? when the moon comes up and the fog rolls in and the crowd
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arrives, the freak show begins. [ laughter ] >> oh, yeah, good times. >> the entertainment that i do is something unlike what you would normally see in an everyday situation. i do a little bit of fire eating, fire breathing. i hammer a nail into the center of my face, drill myself in the face with a power drill. >> seth carny of boston, massachusetts, is an old school carnival performer with an old school carnival knack for separating people from their money. >> at the carnival, we had a little running joke that it cost $2 to get in and $7 more to get out because the $2 admission to get in covered our expenses to be on the lot, but the inside money from the pitches is what paid everybody's salaries for the week to be there. >> halloween is a busy season for seth. by night, he's outside performing as an evil clown, roping in the crowds at the
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haunted mansion. by day, he's a medieval torturer inside king richard's renaissance fair. >> welcome to the torture show. i look extremely intimidating in this outfit, but it works to my advantage when i'm trying to sell because i can make fun of myself in this outfit. they love me. they really love me. i'll stand at my bone shop cart, and i'll tell people, oh, especially reserved customer, oh, you don't have to be afraid of me. i'm really just a big fat teddy bear. >> teddy bear? bone shoppe? that's right. when he's not on stage can shocking audiences with fiery torches, seth spends most of his day in front of his cart selling colorful curiosities. >> what sparks your fancy here? >> there's a lot of good stuff. >> very good mix of different dead things. it makes great christmas tree ornaments. put a little string in the back of the skull here. there is an art form to
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pitching. you need to be able to read people. you're not just saying, hey, give me a couple bucks. you have to say, hey, i'm going to show you something really cool, and at the end, you're going to feel like you want to give me a couple bucks, and that's okay because it's worth a couple bucks. >> if you expect a carnival trained pitchman like seth to take an aggressive sales approach, then you'll be surprised by his strategy. >> i was taught how to pitch by classic carnival pitchmen, and the way that we pitch and the way that i was taught to pitch is a soft sell. you can just be the quintessential, stereotypical car salesman that's trying to push someone into a sale. people need to be comfortable with what you're selling. they need to be comfortable with you first as a person. >> for seth, the soft sell starts with a tough guy costume and a large dose of self-deprecating humor. >> if you want to see a fat guy eat fire, breathe fire, and then
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hammer a nail in his face and then stick fishing hooks in his eye sockets, this will be the show for you. what do you say? our first show is 11:30. >> we watched him successfully working the crowd to come see his 11:30 show. >> you'll have an 11:30 date today, and it will be done. >> yeah, i have a date at 11:30 with two beautiful woman. you ladies have a wonderful day. first, they're looking at my costume. while they're doing that, they're listening to what i'm saying. now i've got them really hooked. >> for seth, sales is all about getting people hooked, and he's very good at doing that. >> yes, when people approach the bone shoppe cart, i'll gauge what people are interested in at the cart, and then i'll kind of try to gauge how their reaction is to different items.
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>> back at his bone shoppe, he says the next step towards making a sale is recognizing that different personalities require different approaches. >> how a person dresses says a lot about them. so if someone's going to wear a very loud clothing to a renaissance fair, they're probably a very open type of person, very talkative type of person. >> i am totally going to molest you now into buying something. >> all right, molest away. >> i'll be right there to say, hey, how are you doing? let's talk some bones. but if they are a little reserved, they might be wearing like a lighter toned clothes, very neutral colors, nothing flashy, nothing gaudy, nothing to make them stand out. i might approach that a little differently. >> we also have the economical one-piece skulls. just kind of walk up very casually. is there anything i can help you with? do you see anything that you like? they might be a little soft-spoken at first. they might say, well, i was kind of wondering about this. oh, well this? i'll take it right off the
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shelf. >> what are these? >> we have beaver, coyote, raccoon. any feel for you? pick anything up and play with it. we even have minks. the minks are cute because you can make necklaces out of them. and i'll put it right in their hands and say, oh, this, you can touch it. it's okay. hold it. and just stick it right in their hands and say, check it out. it's okay. it's dead. it's not going to hurt you. and what they are picking up on on a subconscious level is they appreciate that. that i'm taking time to speak directly with them. >> finally, seth says, the conclusion comes when the customer's face and body language tell you that they're ready to buy. >> they will constantly be looking back at an item while you're talking about it. that's telling me that they're very interested in this item, and if the price just doesn't seem quite right to them and they're getting ready to walk away, i'll say, you know what, tell you what, just because i
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know you really want that, i'll make you a deal, just for you. when in reality, it's the same deal i would make for anybody. now they feel like they're getting that extra special deal. >> for a carnival pitchman like seth, the line between performance and sales gets blurred. >> it's really a mental mind trip for the senses of i'm laughing, i'm shocked, i'm laughing, i'm shocked, and your brain just goes through a tornado of emotions. >> his technique may have been unusual, but his sales approach works, no bones about it. let's fire up this week's board of director michael goldberg is a managing partner at bridge investment fund, and colleen debase is special projects director at entrepreneur.com. lots of puns in that too. i apologize. thanks so much for joining us, you guys. one thing that i thought was so funny in there is he said i
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gauge them by their clothing, in this particular case, but there were differences, right? different degrees to how much you dressed up, and he noticed that and sells to differently. >> i think it's classic. i think of my own portfolio companies, and if we only had someone like him out in front, sometimes our sales folks, when you're doing projections before the customers in front of you, you think you can sell anything, and you know what the customer needs. but it's very different when you're actually engaging with a customer, and making the sale is so tough for small businesses. in that instance, he's reading his customer, and he's going in for the sale. >> there's nothing passive about what he's doing. do you have to be that active in order to make that sale? it's a lot of work. >> yeah. when i was watching that, i was thinking, this might be kind of a scary segment for a lot of people, especially aspiring entrepreneurs because a lot of people who are drawn to start a business, they want to do it because they're really passionate about something. they don't have that sales background, and salesmanship can really scare people off.
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he's obviously not scared about this. what i would say is for anyone who is sort of scared off, kind of do what he's doing, which is to be really excited and enthusiastic. i mean, that just comes shining through when you watch this guy. i think, if you're an entrepreneur and you've created a company where you're really passionate. we always say, don't start a company unless you're passionate. if you're really passionate about your product or service, it makes the job of selling that much easier. it's contagious. you get people excited too. >> one thing that i thought was interesting, and he had a different reason for doing it is getting him to hold. i was thinking of this concept of escalation of commitment. get someone to do a little something and then get him to do the next little something, and then suddenly they do the big thing that you want. getting them to hold it may, in turn, make them more apt to buy it later on. >> not every small business has a product that so easily held in the hand.
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but i think the concept applies to anyone. let's say you're a software company or service company, you may be able to do a pilot. there's ways to get your product a try and buy. i think for really early stage companies that are trying to get the revenue, it's important to do something where they can touch it. it's not always going to be in the physical, but it could be a piece of software, another service, but i think the concept is right. >> thanks, you guys. facebook can certainly be a powerful way to improve your online presence and grow your business, but what is actually bringing in sales and what's not? here now are five tools to help you analyze your business' facebook data. one, page lever. the site provides detailed fan profiling of your page by categories like age and gender. you can try it free for 14 days before choosing a plan that fits your business needs. two, simply measured. this tool provides excel based reports in web view so that entire reports can be shared with the team.
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three, edgerank checker. you can get overall industry reports, not just reports pertaining to your business. there's a free plan available, but additional features are only accessible with the paid account. four, buddy media. see how well your brand measures up against others in the same industry using the sites 0 to 100 scoring system. and number five, unilyzer. with it, you can track single or multiple fan pages and offers social media trending and side by side comparisons. who would have thought, in the middle of an election, the fitness regimen of a campaign hopeful would be getting so much attention. p90x is the workout of choice from vice presidential candidate paul ryan. it's part of the beach body family, which includes some of
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the most popular in-home fitness and weight loss solutions on the market today. we sat down with beach body ceo to get everything from telling it like it is to the importance of being self-aware, in this learning from the pros. ♪ no one can stop us now >> for anybody who works here, it's just fun to see when chili from tlc is doing brazil butt lift, and she tweets about it or paul ryan talks about his p90x. so many politicians, celebrities, actors talk about doing this, but the thing we're very careful about this is to not make this the star show. the stars of this business are the customers. they're real people who don't have the financial incentive to look great in front of the camera. ♪ be the first customer is, i think, one of the most important things for somebody to really give themselves distinction in the marketplace.
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it's very easy to see a need out there and think, oh, i can solve that need. unless you viscerally feel the problem, you're not going to solve that need in a way that is going to be really competition proof. we never sort of open the doors and said, hey, come on in and pitch us your product. instead, we looked at, again, using ourselves as the first customers. what would we like? we just develop products that are a way to gratify our own desire to live a healthier, more fit life, in a way that can also fit into regular life. as a company grows, you can't be the ceo of the business and do everything the way you did when you were just four people. so we've had a few ideas that were really good ideas that were really going to meet a certain demand, but then as they get delegated, the product doesn't end up being what you originally
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set out to create. the delegation cannot be weak. it's got to be really clear, really strong, and then there has to be some follow through. ♪ >> one day john came into my office, and he said, i was just at a hotel, and they were offering p90x classes in the gym, and i said, well, that's funny. we don't let people do p90x classes. people want to do p90x, turbo fire, insanity, brazil butt lift, they want to do these things at their gyms. our job is not to tell people they have to do it at home. our job is to give people great programming they can do anywhere. we want beach body to be synonymous with results. that's all we care about. in 2012 in the spring, we launched certifications so that a personal trainer out there or group exercise instructor could have a brand attached to the work of training people.
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♪ >> to be self-aware. so just like the player who asked to be taken off the field if he's not running at his fastest so that he can get a play of rest, that's what's important for an entrepreneur to do. you can't be a great ceo if you're pushed to your limit and you're being short with people and you're snapping at people and you're not making good decisions. you've got to check out. do you want to be the richest guy in the cemetery, or do you want to be a person who had a truly healthy, fulfilling life. that's what we try to help people and inspire them to do. when we come back, we will answer your small business questions, including what nonprofits can learn from for profits? and with small business saturday coming up, a look at how local businesses in austin, texas are working together with local growers to get customers to shop small. we've all had those moments.
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when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card. spends like cash. feels like membership. do you want to make sure your employees are working to the best of their ability. i learned from from a working who was working at cooking.com.
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whenever someone would turn in their project, she would say, are you sure this is done? if it is, turn it into me. it set a tone. it basically said to people, i don't accept any slackers here. also, people loved working with her, because she set the bar high and then helped people reach it. so "it's your business" tip number 69, set expectations high from the start. small business saturday is coming up on november 24th. as many of you know, it's a day dedicated to getting consumers to forego the big box stores and shop small. nowhere is the buy local movement greater than the progressive city of austin. as we first told you last year, it's there that local farmers and suppliers are working with distributors to give residents the chance to stock up with items from their own proverbial backyard. >> here, piggy, wiggy, wiggy. >> it doesn't get more local than this. green gate farm, located on the outskirts of austin, texas, is
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run by erin flynn and skip conig. they raise rare breed hogs in a wide range of organically grown vegetables. >> in farming, there's heavy up front costs -- a barn, a tractor, fencing -- it takes a long time before you're going to see a profit. >> green gate is a very small, very local business. it provides food for about 100 families a year and at the same time provides income to a fair number of other local businesses and suppliers. >> we're growing rare breed guinea hogs. they need organic feed. that supports the feed mill. we need fencing. that supports the supply stores. then there's a butcher. i need to hire who's going to start making fine sausages, who will sell it to a restaurant. >> more and more, local business owners are discovering that spending their money within the community brings a boost to the local economy. >> so the buy local movement is, when you buy local, the money stays in the community, so it's better for the local community
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to shop with small, independent vendors. that's austin-based mason arnold. he was born and raised in austin, texas. his 6-year-old company, greenling, regularly buys produce from green gate farms along with most of the other organic farms in the region. greene greenling distributes this locally grown produce to homes in austin. as a disstrib tore of locally grown foods, they offer familiar and exotic new produce to customers like lynette of austin, texas. >> it challenges me to make something i would never buy in the store. >> in this way, they are introducing new customers to new product from local suppliers. robbie larkin is a local austin angel investor. he puts some of his money behind greenling and a few other slow money businesses. >> you put all of these businesses together. it is not just investing in a
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farm but in the infrastructure of food and making sure that infrastructure of food stays in your community. we provide jobs. we provide healthy jobs. it's not just how much okra are you going to get this week? it's time to answer some of your business questions. michael and colleen are with us once again. the first one is from richard. he writes. i have created a series of educational dvds. i would like to start a business that among other things would sell these educational dvds to schools as part of their lesson plants and to retail outlet's in box sets. how do i determine a value weighs when looking for investors which i would need to produce investors? >> old school. i think the reality is that investors, there is going to be something in between what an entrepreneur thinks that their valuation is and what an investor thinks. a lot of accelerators are
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saying, for $25,000, we are going to take 10% of your company, regardless if you are selling educational dvds or anything. that's sort of setting what i think is sort of the right level on the floor. >> what about this idea of convertible debt? it sounds like for what he is doing, maybe this is for friends or family or somebody who is interested in the educational world. the idea of don't set the valuation at this first round. say this is debt. when we get our next round and we have more sophisticated investors, with he will convert that into equity. do you see that happening a lot? >> i see that happening a lot of times. in a local community, we have an organization called jump-start which has a green field fund that sports on the otts. they are deploying their capital income companies in the way you are saying. when the next set of investors come in, it converts into equity and it avoids the valuation conversation. that certainly is a method that a number of investors are using at an early stage.
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>> i would say i think this person is a little bit ahead of themselves in talking about valuation. it doesn't sound like they have a product yet. there is a huge lean start-up movement we have been hearing a lot about. i think they have a bill, a minimal version of whatever this is they want to sell. they need to have something to even impress an investor with. they need to, i think the way to start is to build something and see if people will buy it and you learn a lot from that, just from having that minimum version of a product. >> this is from chrissy who wrote, i am in the process of obtaining a 501 c 3. would you give the same marketing advice to a nonprofit as a for-profit business. i would in many respects. >> it is kind of a yes and no sort of question. yes, the basic principles of marketing are the same whether you are a for-profit business or a not for profit. you need to get the word out about your organization, boost your many manlg, talk about how valuable you are to whoever it is, whether it is customers or
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to donors. i think marketing when you are a nonprofit, it is a little bit trickier, because people are going to expect you to be really stand-up, to be really well-inenwell-i well-intentioned and to be knowable. with your marketing, you can't be really aggressive. you can't be too irreverent. even humor can offend people. you have to be careful. >> one of the things that you have almost built-in is you have this mission and this cause. so it's a little bit easier often to connect on an emotional level than it would be maybe with a product or a service. so you should really play that up. >> i agree. the one point that colleen made was in a nonprofit, you may be marketing to potential customers of your product or service and then the donor. many nonprofits, their revenue stream has both a donor aspect and then they are selling their services. there is going to be different messages for both.
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the donor side, absolutely. you are hitting them on the emotional piece and the mission piece. on the service side, you may be competing against for profit companies that are selling similar services. so i think it's really sort of honing your message to both the donor and the potential sort of customer audience. >> that's something for all of us to remember for everything. your elevator pitch needs to be different for your audience, no matter what kind of company you are. now, a question about going big. >> as a small business owner who owns a real estate agency in atlanta, what's the best way to expand nationally? >> the first question would be, i think to think about why do you want to expand nationally? >> i see in my own portfolio companies, i invest in medical companies that are commercializing in the u.s. we often take a regional approach to begin with. as we think about expanding nationally, i almost think of it as a continued regional expansion.
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>> at entrepreneur, we write about franchising and cover a lot of franchises. i think that is also a route that this person could go. i don't know about real estate so much but for any business owner that has a successful business and they want to go national fl the beauty of franchising is that you pass a lot of the cost of opening new locations on to your franchisees. the draw back is you have to spend a lot of time and energy and money coming up with training programs and manuals. >> you as the business owner go into a different business. you aren't selling the product anymore, you are -- >> selling your company to perspective franchisees. >> if any of you have a question, go to the website. our address is openforum.com/yourbusiness. hit the ask the show link to submit a question. if you would rather, you could send us an e-mail.
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that address is yourbusiness@msnbc.com. colleen and michael both had some really helpful advice about how to improve your business. now, let's get some great idaho yas from small business owners like you. >> i truly believe the best advice you can give someone is to hire up. always hire somebody who is at least as good as they are or better at what they want them to do, because by doing so, they will never make you look bad and you will have the very best talent to do what you need to do. >> prioritize the number of contacts that you make in your business to make sure your network continues to expand. it is the only way to insure you will be referred, that people will want to hire you and will remember who you are. >> people are traditionally terrified of economic downturns. they are not good. there are opportunities all of the time in economic downturns.
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one of the things that i have learned is that a receptionist a horrible thing to waste. i would never wish a reception on the country if we could avoid it. there are huge opportunities there. you simply need to figure out how to leverage it. do you wish you had a streamlined way to pay all of your vendors? check out our website of the week. invoicecentral.com is a secure web service where you can receive and pay invoices all in one place. save time by scheduling payments in advance and also set reminders so you never miss a payment or incur a late charge. over 70 vendors are already in invoice central system and more are signing up each month. to learn more about today's show, go to our website, openforum.com/yourbusiness. you will find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. you can also follow us on twitter. it is @msnbcyourbiz.
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please become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feedback. next week, as we prepare to cast our votes in the 2012 election. we devote our program to the issues small business owners are most concerned about, taxation, health care. we talk to entrepreneurs to see who they think will keep america's small businesses healthy and prosperous. until then, i'm j.j. ramberg and remember, we make your business our business. we've all had those moments. when you lost the thing you can't believe you lost. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this